The High Cost of Low Prices

Gone are the days when WalMart founder Sam Walton, whose own personal story read like a Horatio Alger novel, proudly declared that his stores would henceforth focus on goods made and manufactured in the U.S. Today, many U.S. consumer goods are manufactured in China. The effects on the U.S. working and middle class have been devastating in some instances, as well-paying industrial jobs that allowed a single breadwinner to own a home and support a family grow ever-scarcer. These facts are well-documented, and are increasingly becoming a topic of discussion in political and media dialogue. What is less frequently discussed, but becoming more apparent, is that low-priced products made in U.S. factories located in China are sometimes of low quality, and hazardous to people’s health.

With poisoned pet food from China, wood building products from China containing formaldehyde, lead-based paint used in children’s toys from China, and packaged seafood from China raised in sewage ponds, it should come as no surprise that many products with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are manufactured in China and continue to be shipped to the U.S. These products include common industrial materials such as asbestos packing used in manholes, asbestos sheets for gasket making, asbestos belts for machinery, asbestos brake linings, and even “dust-free” asbestos rope. Several years ago, an EPA panel urged the federal government to ban asbestos imports to little avail because of the stranglehold multinational corporate interests hold over all three branches of government.